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Archive for August 22nd, 2009

The Good, the Bad, the Weird is set in Manchuria during the Japanese occupation.  The story revolves around a map that may or may not be a treasure map.  The map is sent by an official to China in the hands of one of his agents.  At the same time he sends a ruthless outlaw killer (presumably the Bad of the title) to steal the map back thus getting paid but retaining the valuable map.  This leads to the first set piece of the film.  A brilliantly executed and beautifully shot train robbery that is part western part Mad Max.  The situation is complicated by a petty thief and outlaw (The Weird) who is already robbing the train and a bounty hunter (The Good) who is after them.  As you can tell it borrows some plot as well as some of the title of Sergio Leone’s classic western. 

The Good the Bad and the Weird 

We then get various fights in border towns and chases across deserts with further characters joining in including rival gangs of outlaws and the Japanese army.  The film does lose its way in places and the plot that manages to be both thin and convoluted at the same time.  This problem is overcome to some extent by almost none stop action and great photography.  The action scenes are well constructed and perfectly executed and the desert photography borrows from classic Hollywood westerns.  This is interesting because the action, violence comedy do owe more to “spaghetti” Westerns than classic Hollywood.  The success of the film is aided by fantastic costumes that manage to blend oriental with the old west.  The music is also great and has an Ennio Morricone vibe to at times it reinforcing western theme.

This is the type of film that will divided opinion as it is so unusual but if you like Spaghetti Westerns and Korean Epics you will probably enjoy it, I certainly did.  I have put it in my list of “DVD Gems” as I just caught up with it on DVD although it did get a small UK cinema releases earlier this year.

A note on the cast and crew.

The film is directed by Ji-woon Kim who has previously made the great horror thriller A Tale of Two Sisters (that was very badly remade recently) and the solid gangster movie A Bittersweet Life

Fans of Korean cinema will know Kang-ho Song (Yoon Tae-goo/The Weird) from The Host, Lady Vengeance, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Shiri: Woo-sung Jung (Park Do-won/The Good) from The Warrior:  Byung-hun Lee (Park Chang-yi / The Bad) from A Bittersweet Life.  He is also in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. 

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